Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences Research and Education Campus

East Boothbay, Maine
A Beacon of Sustainability

Nestled into Maine’s coastal hillside, the three wings of this new research center reach out towards the ocean, recalling the local vernacular of docks and piers while connecting to the mission of the institute: to understand the relationships between our oceans and our atmosphere and how these influence and are influenced by climate change. The proximity to the sea, and to the sensitive coastal environment, is vital for their research.   

Connecting each of the research wings is a sunlight-filled Commons that provides informal meeting spaces, a café, and large conference room, bringing everyone in the Bigelow community together. Views to the natural site are maintained throughout the building, with collaborative spaces projecting out towards the sea, increasing the researchers’ visual access to the ocean to inspire them and focus their passions.

Highly sustainable and collaborative environment that supports world-class research focused on ocean health and climate change.
An inspiring venue for generations of researchers

The concept for the site development and building design was heavily driven by the Client’s philosophy and mission – environmental and sustainability considerations would be paramount. This informed the campus design, requiring that we preserve most of the site, avoid disturbing sensitive wildlife areas, vernal pools and shoreline Eelgrass. The team conceived and deployed a thoughtful overall site plan and received accolades and approvals from the state, local commissions and from the Corps of Engineers.

After 37 years in a cramped, leased facility, the effort was launched to build a new home all their own.
“I love the new building. The community ‘Commons’ space and lab hallways invite impromptu discussions and the walls are all designed to serve as scratch pads for our ideas. And if that were not enough, my office and lab overlook the beautiful estuary as it flows into the sea.”

David Fields PhD, Senior Research Scientist

High Performance Building

The building envelope utilizes a zinc ‘rain-screen’ concept to achieve a high-performance and durable skin – one that will patina and soften over time and blend into its environment. The selection of environmentally sensitive materials, efficient harvesting of daylight, and artful integration of building’s mechanical systems all contribute to a unique facility that is operationally efficient, that mitigates the environmental impact of its own construction, and that provides an inspiring venue for generations of researchers.

The campus became the first LEED Platinum certified laboratory in Maine.
Named for Henry Bryant Bigelow, a visionary scientist and pioneer of modern oceanography.
Anticipating the Future

The design for the new research facility was rooted in our team’s 25-year master plan to support the institute’s anticipated growth. While remaining sensitive to the long-term sustainability of the site, the plan includes student housing, visiting researcher residences, future lab expansion and a conference facility. While the catalytic first phases reach to the sea, the future outreach facility is planned to further connect Bigelow to its local community through educational labs, multi-use learning spaces and a unique home in the boreal forest for world-class ocean science-focused events.

The shore based campus faces the Damariscotta River Estuary.

Project Team

Patrick Cunningham